The mobile alliance formed by Orange,Telefonica Maviles, TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile) and T-Mobile will henceforth be known as FreeMove.
FreeMove’s operators have 170 million customers between them in Europe, and have combined to offer their customers the same services on partner networks as they do on the “home” network.
There is also a secondary aim, which is to combine purchasing power for handsets and services from equipment providers. This will drive down prices, but also drive service adoption by ensuring a harmonised approach, the alliance’s founders hope.
Mobile Europe spoke to Nikesh Aurora, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile, about the aims of the alliance. Aurora said the alliance can work on three different levels.
“The way we look at it, it allows us to leverage our scale, so if we are all together on a certain key topic we can drive standardisation. We can also drive the acceptance of new products and services and bring our scale to that. It will also allow us to provide a ‘home away from home’ service to our customers.”
Aurora said that certain services would only be possible “if we are all together.” On the last of these points, the virtual home environment, Aurora said, “Customers will know wherever they are in a Freemove country they will be able to get their service as they experience it at home but supplied by their local partner.”
Freemove hopes to increase voice roaming traffic between the partner networks by10% year on year. It also wants to double GPRS roaming traffic. A key to this will be the appeal of FreeMove to multinational corporates. Corporations with multiple locations will be offered one point of contact for their mobile roaming services across the partnership.
Pricing would also be “transparent” and “harmonised” across the partnership, Aurora said.
Aurora said the partnership had already combined to buy six million handsets, at a 10% cost saving. At the moment Siemens and Motorola have preferred supplier status on providing the features and services the alliance is looking for, but Aurora said Freemove is talking to others, particularly in the area of 3G handsets.
Aurora was keen to say that the alliance is different from previous operator alliances such as Concert. The chief difference is that the operators have not moved their responsibility for the alliance outwith their existing operations.